„What have I done? Am I really happy now? Happier than was?“
Too many questions and not even a single answer in her head. Within a year Stella had changed her life so dramatically that sometimes she had troubles believing that it was the same person. The weight of responsibility on her shoulders was sometimes overwhelming. Often overwhelming, to be honest.
She had just finished washing her face. It was pale. Not a good night. She looked at the bathroom mirror and these 90 minutes in her life were in front of her eyes. Again. „All of because that butterfly,“ she mumbled.
Yes, a butterfly. It was climbing on her fine, red-polished toenails. Should you call a bug it, he or she? Confusing. Like her life, Stella thought and noticed that both of them were wearing blue. I am like a butterfly and my life is like a butterfly. As pretty as it sounded, it made her sigh. She shook her head, closed her blue eyes and sighed again. She felt her heart sank. What a mess she had caused.
Stop it, she told herself.
She was biting her nails again. Stella knew it was a sign of stress. A habit she had tried to get rid of so badly, but didn't succeed.
She has to go back, to put on some makeup, change her skyblue sundress to a black suit, comb her wavy ginger hair and step into stilettos. That way she looks more to her age, not like 10 years ago when she was 15. Even Alexander the Great and Gengish Khan were taller than me, she thaught.
Butterfly had left. Time to go and be brave. Like Alexander the Great. Or Gengish Khan.
She reminded herself what her dearest Nan had taught her when facing unpleasant: stand straight, shoulders back, chin up, smile on a face and a can-do attitude. No matter being in short dress or barefoot.
30 minutes later she was ready. For all 8 of them: Graig, her soon-to-be ex-husband, her lawyer Max, Mom, Dad and both younger sisters with their husbands.
When everybody was sitting down, she started. „As I see it, everything comes down to this. We all want to feel loved and love back.“ First words were out and she felt the peace in her. „We all want to feel that we belong somewhere, want to be understood and accepted the way we are, no matter how old or young we are, what do we want to achieve in life or what our sense of style is.“
„Or how short or tall we are,“ snapped Graig. Stella answered with sarcasm in her voice and smile on her face. „Yes, looks is often the source for bullying, but usually boys and girls grow out of it. Probably some of us need a bit more time.“ Silent laughter in a room.
She looked at everybody. They really had no idea.
„I care for everybody in this room, but the person I care the most, the person I value the most, is someone I have never really loved until few weeks ago. Yes, this person is in this room. I've learned to accept this person, to love and feel loved back. I feel understood and that finally I belong somewhere. This person is.... myself.“
She wanted a hug, but was ready for anger, even sarcasm, but not for laughter. Not just Graig, but her sisters too. „That's a good one, Estella!“ „Is this why you asked us all here?“ „This shit is the important notice?“ was asked.
„I'm not finished,“ she said quietly, storm growning inside her. „Graig, divorce papers are already at your work desk and you can continue your affairs. Obviously I couldn't give you something you expected. Mom, I no longer work for our family company, my papers were signed this morning. I've bought a house in the North and I'm moving there today.“
„ Estella, this is something your Dad and Nan wouldn't approve,“ said Stella's Mom with a sharp disappointment in her voice. For that Stella was prepared. „Dad, you'd hoped me to be a boy, remember?“ she said with a soft voice. „Even when I was little, your often told me to „be a good boy“ and „man up“. It was tough to be a lady in front of Mom and man up in front of you. I'm happy being a woman. I've always been.
And Nan would approve me. She married against her parents will when she was 19. It took me more years to have the courage she had.“ Nan was her childhood sunshine. Many of the things Nan told her back then, she understood now.
„I see none of you really likes what I've just said, but honestly – first time I couldn't care less what you think. These are your thoughts, not mine. My best friends Molly and Chris have arrived and they are going to help me. Their friendship has opened my eyes. No matter the looks or other preferences in life, like who you share the bed with - our desires and feelings are the same.“
This mess in her life was still there, but within these 10 minutes she had done more for her happiness than within past 10 years. She had freed the butterfly in her.
What the family didn't know that she had changed her name. She is officially Stella Gordon. Gordon was her Grandpa's name. The love of her Nan's life.
She had found her peace in a small village. Or so she thought. The little house in the hillside, not far from the river had given her so many bright moments. People in the village always asked how she is and encouraged her to ask if any help is needed. Months had passed. She had found a job in a nursery. She had cut her waves shoulder length and had given up an idea looking like a businesswoman. She didn't bite her nails anymore and they looked healthy. She had found it rather enjoyable to take care of her nails. She was proud of herself when she looked at her hands.
She had thrown away last items of her make-up about six months ago. She enjoyed being like she was. Enjoyed being around 2-year olds who didn't ask about her. Who just needed her to be there for them.
Molly and Chris had been visiting her. Stella had asked not to talk about her family and her friends had respected her decision.
Yes, she was still hurt. She had days like today when she was really down and all she wanted was to be loved. Thoughts about how she loves herself and is taking care of herself just were not enough. A huge cuddle would have been really helpful. Someone to hug her and whisper how all this is going to pass and it's going to be allright again.
The truth was, she really missed her family. Especially little nieces. Maybe there was another and she is not even aware of it?
Did she really miss her family? Or did she missed the feeling belonging to a family? „I don't know!“ she yelled to herself in the mirror. And burst into tears.
She felt so incredibly sorry for herself. In the deepest level she knew that going back is not an option. Stella didn't want the life she had had. She really enjoyed her own decisions and quiet pace she had here. But the puzzle she had created wasn't complete. Something was missing and it frustrated how she hadn't found out what it was.
And that was the reason she felt like she had failed. That was the reason that she still felt like she didn't belong there or here or maybe even anywhere in the world.
Stop it, she told herself once again. Like she always did when being in self-pitty mode. She heard her Nan talking again. So she went outside. She saw the lavender rose blooming for the first time, but her mind was already somewhere else.
She passed the garden, opened the back gate of it and headed to the Cave. It actually wasn't really cave, more like and old trees fallen off the riverbank, but in Stella's eyes it looked like a cave when you went into it. This time she sat on the „roof“ of the Cave. Back againgst a big branch of that almost dead tree, she sat and just listened. Hands relaxed on her knees.
She was wearing black jeans and a longsleeved cotton shirt – clothes she felt most comfortable in around her house. These were practical like the walking boots she was wearing.
Bees humming, birds just above her head, wind so silent that it sounded like whispering, small waterfall on the rocks splashing. So familiar and calming. No sign of a promised thunderstorm.
Stella closed her eyes and decided to answer the questions she had asked herself in front of that bathroom mirror. Thoughts came to her like a train. Actually like five trains. She heard them, but couldn't see yet.
She felt a bug on her right wrist and moved it. Bug went away but was back within a minute. Stella open her eyes and the trains in her head stopped. It was a butterfly.
She gasped, because blue butteflies didn't live that high up in the North. Well, few people had admitted seeing them, but told her that was really rare and usually a good sign.
Stella smiled. She looked at a butterfly and all of a sudden she heard herself speaking, with confidence and pride. „I am a butterfly and my life is like a butterfly.“
Now she knew. This was the missing piece in her life.